Instead of taking the time before the last tournament of the fall season to preach to his team about the importance of focus, head coach of Cal men’s golf Walter Chun tried a different approach: He asked his golfers what they thought they needed to do to come out with a win.
And, time and time again, they responded with one word: patience. He reminded them of their answers every round before they got out on the greens and again when North Florida caught up in the final round of the Ka’anapali Classic.
This patience seemed to pay off, as Cal finished the tournament and its fall competitions with what it had been patiently waiting for all season: a win.
From Friday to Sunday, in Maui, Hawaii, the men’s golf team pieced together its most successful tournament to date, as the Bears finished 11 strokes ahead of their nearest competition, accentuated by a dominant final round and consistent play across all three days from all six participating golfers.
“I think the first four tournaments, they were forcing things; they were hoping for good golf,” Chun said. “But this tournament, they just stayed really patient and they seemed really confident. They really instilled what they needed to do each, individually, to have a successful event.”
Chun noted that for the first time, Cal had a complete team with redshirt junior Jamie Cheatham in the lineup after a recent surgery. Freshman James Song, senior Collin Morikawa and redshirt senior K.K. Limbhasut, who had all missed tournaments earlier in the season for various reasons, were also all part of the lineup, completing what may likely be the travel team heading into the spring.
The star of the tournament, however, was redshirt senior Sebastian Crampton, who won the individual side of things with a solid -17 showing for the tournament and a -8 in the final round, which tied his career low for a round. His 17-under matched Morikawa’s round at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational earlier in the year as the school record for 54 holes.
Morikawa also had a strong day, equaling Crampton’s 8-under, his career-best round, and finishing with a solid 14-under par and third place. This tournament dropped his stroke average to 67.50, which is well under the NCAA record of 68.68 he set last season.
Cal kicked off the tournament in second place after the first round and moved into the top spot after the second day of competition, but it was not until the third round that the Bears really distanced themselves from second-place North Florida. A strong finish by all five Cal golfers, including Song who had the top finish of his career at 18th and Limbhasut who finished 11th, secured Cal the much-anticipated victory to close out the fall campaign.
“Because we had played well on Friday and Saturday with them really staying patient, I think it hit home how important it is not to get caught up in bad shots or bad breaks,” Chun said.
Akshara Majjiga covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected].